Executive Director's Update to Principals #33: COVID Update - 16 Jul 2021
God of hope,
Our hearts overflow with gratitude for your abiding presence during these exceedingly difficult and troubled times.
May the flames of hope remain aglow among individuals, families, communities and nations during the pandemic.
May our trust in you be affirmed, especially as we continue to navigate each day the challenges that have confronted us.
Let all that we are wait quietly before you, O God, knowing that our hope is in you.
By your Spirit, may we be grounded in the hope that is proclaimed in your word:
you are our rock and salvation, our fortress where we will not be shaken.
We pray in the name of One who, by his resurrection,
has given us the hope of life eternal, Jesus the Christ, Amen.
Updated School Operations Guide
Remote and flexible learning has begun in Catholic schools across Victoria. We thank you for the hard work, preparation and dedication that is making this transition possible. It is appreciated by your students and their families and everyone in Catholic education and helps to keep our school communities safe.
An updated Term 3 School Operations Guide is now available to download from CEVN. A summary of pertinent changes is below.
Student attendance on site
Schools will continue to provide on-site supervision for students in the following categories:
- Children where both parents and/or carers are authorised workers who cannot work from home, work for an essential provider and where no other supervision arrangements can be made:
- Where there are two parents/carers, both must be authorised workers, working outside the home in order for their children to be eligible for on-site provision
- For single parents/ carers, the authorised worker must be working outside the home in order for their children to be eligible for on-site provision.
- Children experiencing vulnerability, including:
- children in out-of-home care
- children deemed vulnerable by a government agency, funded family or family violence service, and is assessed as requiring education and care outside the family home
- children identified by a school as vulnerable, including via referral from a government agency, or funded family or family violence service, homeless or youth justice service or mental health or other health service.
It is important schools continue to prioritise children when decisions need to be made about access to on-site learning. Please continue to consider family stress that can contribute to vulnerability, which may include families with a child or children with a disability.
COVIDSafe principles for schools should continue to be followed for on-site supervision, including staying home when unwell and getting tested, practising good hygiene and wearing a mask both indoors and outdoors when outside of home. With these COVIDSafe measures in place, schools continue to be safe environments for staff and students on site.
Staff attendance on site
School staff who are not required to support on-site supervision should work from home for this period.
Outside School Hours Care
Outside School Hours Care programs must follow these same directions.
Other arrangements for Victorian border communities
Students and staff who live in cross-border communities in Victoria and are enrolled in or work in a school in a cross-border community in a bordering state will be able to attend on site if they meet the DET eligibility criteria as per the above categories.
Students and staff who live in cross-border communities in bordering states and are enrolled in or work in a school in cross-border communities in Victoria can attend onsite if they meet if they meet the DET eligibility criteria as per the above categories.
More information on cross border community guidance is available here.
School boarding premises, Medium Term Residential Programs and School Camps
Students and staff residing in school boarding premises, medium term residential programs or currently on a school camp are permitted to ‘shelter in place’ with appropriate staff supervision and care and no visitors to the residential or camp site. Schools may choose to return from camps earlier than expected but are not required to do so.
If any school presently has students on camp, please notify your Education Consultant immediately.
Monitoring of close contacts in schools
To minimise further community transmission of COVID-19, the Department of Health has introduced a new system for the identification, notification and monitoring of close contacts (primary and secondary).
In line with this, schools will now be advised if a student or staff member at their school has been identified by the Department of Health as a close contact of a person with COVID-19.
Close contacts are contacted directly by the Department of Health regarding requirements for quarantine and testing; the student or staff member should not attend school until they are advised by the Department of Health that their quarantine has concluded. Students or staff members should bring a copy of the clearance message (text, email or letter) they receive from the Department of Health indicating that their quarantine period has ended when they return to school.
Schools will be asked to confirm that the student or staff member identified as a close contact is not attending school during this time. If the student or staff member is attending school, they must be sent home immediately and you must notify your Education Consultant immediately. The school is not required to close due to a close contact attending, unless advised otherwise by the Department of Health.
When notified that a student or staff member has been in close contact with a positive case of COVID-19 and/or has visited a public exposure site, please contact the COVID-19 Coordination Team. Schools do not need to take further action until directed to do so.
Key contacts for schools
To ensure you receive accurate information for timely, coordinated distribution to your school community, any school with a suspected or confirmed case should contact their Education Consultant immediately.
For further assistance please contact:
- Your Education Consultant
- John Meneely – 0448 748 135
- Department of Health COVID Hotline – 1800 338 663
(a dedicated hotline for principals and early childhood)
The use of Service Victoria QR codes for electronic record keeping is mandatory in all schools to enable the effective contact tracing of any COVID-19 cases.
QR code check ins are required to be used by:
- all essential visitors on school site (including contractors, external Department staff and building and maintenance staff)
- all parents who enter school buildings when on school site for essential purposes
QR code check ins are not required to be used by:
- parents of eligible students who come onto school grounds for drop off or pick up, but do not enter buildings.
Schools are reminded that existing sign in and out processes should continue to be used to record essential visitor attendance, in particular the purpose of visits, for legal and regulatory obligations
The community is not permitted to use school facilities at this time (indoor or outdoor).
Density limits in school staff areas
Density limits of 1 person per 4 square metres apply to staff areas such as staff lunchrooms and areas accessed by the public, such as reception areas. For public areas, signage must be displayed to indicate the maximum number of members of the public that may be present in the space at a single time.
Visitors to school premises should be limited to essential school services and operations.
Visitors to school grounds must comply with physical distancing and face mask requirements set, and practise good hand hygiene.
The density limit of 1 person per 4 square metres should be applied to any spaces and activities being attended by parent/carers and other visitors. The density limit applies to all persons in the space, including students.
Essential health, wellbeing and inclusion visits are permitted.
During this period of lockdown where there is more flexibility, DOBCEL strongly encourages all eligible staff to take the opportunity to receive their COVID vaccinations as soon as practicable, if they haven’t already. See information on vaccination centres and bookings.
Operating hours have been extended for some vaccination centres to better meet demand and access. We recognise that some staff may have difficulty booking a vaccination appointment out of school hours. Where this is the case, principals may approve special leave to facilitate attendance at a vaccination appointment without impact to an employee’s personal leave balance. This leave would be recorded as ‘other leave’ in the Personnel Record System (PRS) and should be notated in the comments box on the PRS as ‘Vaccination Leave’.
Any leave required subsequent to a vaccination for an adverse reaction is to be taken as paid personal leave. When booking a vaccination appointment, staff should liaise with their principal to minimise the impact of any leave on the school’s operations.
Updated COVIDSafe Plan and COVID-19 Safety Risk Review templates
The templates for the COVIDSafe Plan and COVID-19 Safety Risk Review have been updated and are available on the CEVN website. The templates have been updated to reflect the changes made by the latest update of the School Operations Guide.
Table of Restrictions
The latest Table of Restrictions is available to download.
Masks back-up supply
For those schools who may require a nominal supply of back-up masks to be utilised when any individual appears on site having forgotten their own personal mask, please contact Simon O’Brien to place your request.
COVID updates this weekend
Due to the unpredictability of the lockdown for regional Victoria, we will monitor the situation over the weekend and advise principals of any updates. Please check your emails by 8pm Sunday evening for the latest advice.
Stay safe and continue to look after each other…